How to potty train a stubborn toddler
If you are the parent of a stubborn toddler, you are definitely not in the minority! Children at this age have just begun to see themselves as separate individuals from their parents. Until now they have attached almost all of their experiences to a parent or care giver and the people that they live with day to day. Beginning at about age 18 months they begin to notice the world around them more and more. This can spark a «regression» in which the otherwise somewhat independent personality all of a sudden becomes clingy. Unfortunately, this also comes at the same time when most parents become eager to begin potty training. The world is a big place and can be overwhelming to little ones. Children need to feel they have control over their environment. Your child may choose the potty training arena to exercise this control. This will drive you crazy!
Remember that all children develop at different rates. Try not to push toilet training on your child if they are less than two years old. Some children, especially girls, show interest before this time. If your child shows interest in the potty, purchase a potty chair and allow your child to sit on it when they go to the bathroom with you. It is important at some point for a boy to go with a man. Boys generally wait longer to begin training and sometimes take longer to finish. This is no big deal. Most all children are trained (during the day) by age 3. Let your child sit on the potty with or without a diaper on. Talk to your child when you change their diaper about whether they are wet or «pooped» to teach them the words you want them to use to let you know when they need to use the potty. Remember that your child can and will be screaming these words out in public at some point! Teach hand washing skills from a very early age to prevent a battle over it later.
Your child will let you know when they are ready and you should follow their cues. Your child should be able to do these things before attempting to toilet train. If your child shows interest in going to the bathroom with you, can pull their pants up and down by themselves, can use words to express the need to go, begins to express that they are uncomfortable in a soiled diaper, and perhaps begin removing their diaper themselves, then it may be time to introduce the potty.
There are all sorts of tricks and gadgets to use as incentives for using the potty. Parents can choose to use these things or not. Remember, what your child wants most is your approval and and praise. You may use things like stickers or small candies as an incentive. A lot of parents and care givers do. Some other tricks include things like «musical potty chairs» that do the obvious, putting Cheerios or froot loops in the toilet for boys to «aim» at, or using powdered kool-aid in the bottom of the potty so it will change to a bright color when wet. Children enjoy these things. Be careful about making play out of it though. When you take your child to the potty, be matter of fact about it, praise them if they go, don’t shame them or be negative if they do not. All children will train when they are ready.
It can be difficult and stressful on a parent when it does become a battle. I remember a few years ago with my oldest son stressing out over whether or not he would be able to stay in the three year old preschool class if he didn’t quit having accidents. Many children will continue to wet in their sleep long after day training. This may include nap time. Let your child know that it is okay and normal. Continue putting a pull-up on your child for rest times until they begin waking up dry consistently. Being consistent with your child will make training easier and faster. Discuss any concerns you may have with your child’s doctor. Patience will pave the road to success.